Harvey Park Grille Opens in Former Rosemary Cafe in Denver | Westword

Harvey Park Grille in the Former Rosemary Cafe Is Now Open

The owner of Jelly has rebooted the space as a neighborhood diner serving items such as Azar’s Classic Burger, an homage to Azar’s Big Boy.
Harvey Park Grille opened for lunch and dinner service on February 22.
Harvey Park Grille opened for lunch and dinner service on February 22. Harvey Park Grille
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“Every day, we've had at least twenty people waiting at the door to come in,” says Josh Epps, owner of Harvey Park Grille. After extensive renovations, the revamped diner recently opened for lunch and dinner service at 2133 South Sheridan Boulevard.

For three decades, Rosemary Cafe operated in the location, and Epps, a Harvey Park local, was a frequent patron before it closed in May 2022. “I couldn’t have lived with myself if someone else got in here and did something with it,” he says. Epps has more than a decade of restaurant ownership experience. He opened the first Jelly Cafe in Capitol Hill in 2010, followed by a second location in the University of Denver neighborhood.

But the potential expense associated with this next business endeavor gave Epps pause. In his initial research, he explains, “the cost of the building and the remodel just would have been a little too much — so I backed out.” Councilman Kevin Flynn, who represents District 2, in which Harvey Park falls, was involved in identifying a new owner after Rosemary Cafe shut its doors. Still interested, Epps recalls, “I put together some numbers for a couple of months and I talked to Kevin. We didn’t realize until we started talking [that] his son was one of the original cooks at Jelly.”

Epps “kicked [the idea] around for a while and finally just bit the bullet and [jumped] in," he says. He then waited for the city to approve the restaurant permit, a process that took eight months and was finally completed last August. During that time, the building underwent significant changes — some planned, others not so much.
click to enlarge an oval sign
The former Rosemary Cafe sign was replaced last year.
Harvey Park Grille

What's changed?

“It was a working restaurant, and we were kind of hoping we could come in, make it pretty and get it back open. But, yeah, lots of unforeseen problems and updates,” says Epps. He explains that the structure was built in the 1960s, and Harvey Park Grille sought to keep the mid-century aesthetic. The original seating was reupholstered, and last September, an updated cream and navy sign was installed along Sheridan Boulevard.

“Those colors go throughout. The outside is a little more traditional-looking, but we are coming from Jelly, so we don't want to be drab — we have a reputation to uphold. It's a little more vibrant and funky inside,” comments Epps.

The renovated interior is lit by several globe pendants hanging above tan leather booths and the white bar counter, which is backdropped by a scalloped tile wall with pops of orange and blues, along with mounted TVs. In a previous interview with Westword, Epps joked, “Broncos are doing so well, I figured that people are gonna want to come and watch that somewhere.”

What's on the menu?

Epps aimed to keep the menu accessible and competitively priced to make Harvey Park Grille “a neighborhood place where you can watch the games and get some wings, get a burger," he says. He also wanted the selections to include nods to the space's former eateries.

George’s Gyro — served in a pita with your choice of lamb or chicken — pays homage to the owner of Rosemary Cafe, George Vasilias, and the Greek dishes previously served at the establishment. Additionally, the drink menu includes Rosemary’s Gin Fizz, which combines Hendrick's gin with rosemary-infused simple syrup, lemon and soda water.

Further back, the location was an Azar’s Big Boy. Though the restaurant chain is now defunct nationwide, Harvey Park Grille commemorates its iconic Big Boy burger with the Azar’s Classic Burger, which is made with a quarter-pound beef patty, pickles and American cheese. It also includes a smear of Azar’s special sauce, a mayo and ketchup-based condiment mixed with sweet relish.

These legacy items provide a sense of nostalgia for some in Harvey Park, but according to Epps, no dish has been more popular than the French dip. The last-minute menu addition is made with thinly sliced, slow-cooked prime rib topped with Swiss cheese, horseradish mayo and caramelized onions. It’s served with seasoned jus and a side of French fries. “We have not gone a single day without selling it out,” comments Epps.

The Dilltini, a martini variation that blends Chopin vodka with pickle juice, has quickly proven to be popular at the bar. “Dill shots are kind of a big thing right now, and we wanted to use that idea and class it up a bit,” Epps says.

Currently, Harvey Park Grille is not offering happy hour specials, but a discounted food and drink menu is in the works. The same goes for breakfast, which Epps says is highly anticipated by the community. The menu will be completely unique from Jelly, and waffles will be a highlight — Epps recently purchased a $2,000 waffle maker for the restaurant. Other items such as scrambles, Benedicts and pancakes will also be offered. “It's not going to be a huge, expansive menu, but it will certainly cover everything that anybody is going to want,” affirms Epps.

Harvey Park Grille hopes to roll out both happy hour and breakfast service in mid-March, when it will also host a grand-opening celebration. “Everyone says that the neighborhood desperately needed something like this,” notes Epps, adding that many early patrons live just a few blocks from the restaurant. The majority of staff members are residents of Harvey Park, too, which was one of Epps's early goals in order to maintain a local feel.

“It's been so well received by the neighborhood. I couldn't be happier," he concludes.

Harvey Park Grille is located at 2133 South Sheridan Boulevard and is currently open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, 4:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday. For more information, visit harveyparkgrille.com.
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